To make up for royally screwing up my start at Dunnigan Hills, I was really looking forward to doing some racing. I was planning on racing competitively, but keeping the focus on fitness and staying safe because, as I’ve mentioned earlier, everything from this point to the end of September is being centered around Everest Challenge.
The San Ardo course is a 22.8 miles loop with a few rollers in the beginning and a very flat middle part. The finish is not on the course, but is a sweeping left turn after the last lap, just past the feed zone.
There were about 40 of us at the line for the start; the whistle blew and we took off at a very, very leisurely pace. I missed most of the instructions at the start line because I was taking my last bio-break, so at some point in the first few miles I turned and asked the guy next to me if we were neutral. We weren’t.
About 15 or so miles into the race, second wheel hits a rock while riding no handed, lands on the ground and the whole front of the peloton just collapses. I was back far enough that I was able to get around it and proceed. That was as exciting as things would get for a while, as the group neutralized itself to wait for those fallen in the crash. Those who could return to the race did.
Then there were several attacks and a couple of racers went off the front and got a bit of a gap on the field. Webcor, which had numbers in the race (six or seven guys maybe?), obviously had their own plan as they quickly got on the nose and chased the group down. A few attacks later, and Jason from Webcor broke away with another guy, and they developed a gap of 1:30 as we were now somewhere in lap 2.
We had a great official follow our group. And he would travel between the peloton and the break and give us time splits, so we had an idea of what was happening ahead.
A few guys started to try to chase, but Webcor blocked and no organized chase was forming. This was pissing a lot of riders off. I don’t know why they were angry; these are tactics - that’s what you do to help your teammate. Moreover, there was only one guy from Webcor doing most of the blocking – one guy against 35 shouldn’t make anyone angry. In fact, if anyone should have been angry, it should have been the Webcor guy who did the work that should have been shared by the other five teammates he had in the field.
At one point, a Roaring Mouse guy rolled by me and asked if I wanted to chase down the break with him. I felt like working my legs some, so I said “okay.” We traded three or four hard pulls with Webcor sitting third wheel and no one else coming through. We made a bit of a dent in the gap, but I wasn’t going to leave all of myself on lap two trying to drag the entire field to the break, knowing that once it was caught, someone would attack again. So I rolled myself back into the field, about 15 wheels back, and figured I’d let the front of the group organize some more before joining the effort.
Shortly thereafter, a large group went to the front and pushed Webcor back, so the chase was on. It would take us almost an entire lap to catch the break, with about 12 or so miles to go in the race. However, what the front of the group didn’t notice after making the catch is that two guys quietly went off the front. As we were casually rolling toward the finish, our ref informed us that there was a 55 second gap and a frantic chase began.
My plan was simple, stay back until there are three miles to go, then move up and see what kind of legs I have for the finish. The chase strung out the peloton and I was sitting 12th wheel or so. Guys were popping off the front one after the other and with about 1.5 miles to go, I found myself on the nose. Immediately, I think to myself that this is not good. Another guy pulls around me, but no one else wants to go and as we approach the bridge right before the turn to the finish, attacks start flying and I realized my legs have nothing left for the finish. So I rolled across the finish line in the back of the pack. Good race, but a screwed up finish. I wasn’t too upset at the poor finish as I was mainly there for fitness, but a thought did cross my mind that maybe I should have just ridden with the Roasters and saved myself the 5 hours in the car.
If you’re wondering, the second break was caught within 500 meters of the finish.
University RR report coming tomorrow.